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Optimizing Google Ads with 3 Essential Metrics in GA4

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Last Updated on May 26, 2023

The deadline for transitioning to Google Analytics 4 (GA4), as mandated by Google, is swiftly approaching. Although most marketers have a fundamental understanding of GA4, there are numerous advantages and characteristics of GA4 that are beneficial to be aware of. Although GA4 has many features, I have come across a few significant ones that could improve your Google Ads campaigns.

Before we dive into this article, it’s important to understand that if you haven’t migrated to Google Analytics 4 yet from the previous Google Universal Analytics properties, your historic data is at risk of being lost for good. But don’t just take our word for it, Google has been issuing reminders for a while now to ensure all users are migrated to GA4 and a failure to do so will result in Google automatically creating GA4 properties.

As Google Analytics revolves around data, here are three key performance metrics that marketers should be aware of in order to improve the effectiveness of their Google Ads campaigns.

Understanding GA4 Metrics

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A summary of how Google identifies a “Metric” is the following:

“A metric is a quantitative measurement, such as an average, ratio, percentage, and so on. It’s always a number as opposed to text.”

The term “metrics” is sometimes mistaken for “dimensions”, even though the definition is straightforward. A dimension refers to an element or description of data, while a metric measures that data. For instance, in GA4, the name of an event action by a user is what is deemed a dimension. The amount of times that the event is actioned is a metric.

Now that we have that understanding, let us now asses which three metrics to consider when looking to optimize your campaigns within Google Ads.

Top Google Analytics 4 Metrics to Consider: Active Users

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Just as we did with identifying how Google defines what a metric is, let’s do the same for “Active Users.”

Active users are considered to be “any user who has an engaged session or when Analytics collects:

  • the first_visit event or engagement_time_msec parameter from a website
  • the first_open event or engagement_time_msec parameter from an Android app
  • the first_open or user_engagement event from an iOS app”

It is important to note that an Active User is an individual who displays a level of interest in the content on your website.

The Active User metric holds significant value for two reasons. Firstly, it is regarded as the primary user metric in Google Analytics 4. Whenever the metric “User” appears in Google Analytics 4 reports, it pertains to the definition of Active User. When you encounter the metric “Users” in Google Universal Analytics (UA), it is associated with the definition of “Total Users”. Secondly, GA4 includes a new metric that was not available in UA, as UA only offered Total Users and New Users metrics. This new metric enables a swift, detailed analysis of the quality of user visits and the extent of their engagement with your web content.

Utilizing active users to create specific audiences for remarketing is a great way to drive your CPC in your Google Ads campaigns.

Top Google Analytics 4 Metrics to Consider: Event Count

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In the previous Google UA properties, events were measured differently than in the upgraded version. Marketers were used to the “Total Events” metric. Total Events is not available in GA4, however. In GA4, Google writes “Events represent a fundamental data model difference between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 properties.”

It is important to note that events represent all actions now in Google Analytics 4. In the previous version, it was reversed and events had actions attached to them.

Events in GA4 are more general, and they necessitate more in-depth analysis for detailed insights. Conversely, events in UA are specific, independent units linked to specific actions.

For instance, in UA, individual events must be created for each button like “Add to Cart” on your website.

With GA4, you can create a single event called “Add to Cart” that will be triggered every time a user clicks an add to cart button on your website.

While it’s expected that common events such as “pageviews” and “app opens” will consistently rank highly on your priority list, it’s essential to be vigilant for events that receive more hits than comparable events or events on the same page. This provides an opportunity to investigate further and leverage the insights gained to optimize your Google Ads strategy.

Suppose the video start metric consistently garners more event hits than the scroll metric (defined as the User reaching at least 90% of the way down a page) on your landing page. In that case, it’s worth considering relocating elements on the page that are more critical than the video, such as an add-to-cart button.

Landing page optimization is always a big factor in achieving the best results with Google Ads campaigns.

Top Google Analytics 4 Metrics to Consider: Custom Metrics

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*Note that in order to utilize custom metrics in Google Analytics 4, that will benefit your Google Ads campaigns, you’d need to first set them up in Google Tag Manager (GTM). Google has provided documentation that you can view here.

Custom metrics offer you the opportunity to analyze structured data related to almost any parameter. While Google Analytics 4 captures many metrics by default, there may be instances where the default metrics do not suffice. This is where custom metrics come into play.

Custom metrics facilitate a detailed examination of the specifics of your user’s behavior and characteristics on your web property.

Some examples of questions that can be answered with custom metrics include: how many users check out as guests versus those signed in to an account? Which page title receives the highest number of views consistently? Which header or footer link has the highest click-through rate (CTR)?

Once you have that data, now you can truly work wonders with your Google Ads campaigns.

It’s challenging to provide specifics on custom metrics since the range of possibilities for what you can track and the decisions you can make based on that data is virtually infinite. Nevertheless, this is also the most advantageous aspect of custom metrics.

For more information on Google Analytics 4, visit our Insights page.

If you need help setting any custom events up in GA4, schedule a free consultation with our team today. There is no obligation and our team has years of experience helping clients maximize their marketing efforts for the best results.

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